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Wisconsin Progressive Party

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wisconsin Progressive Party (1934–1946) was a political party that briefly held a dominant role in Wisconsin politics.[1]

The Party was the brainchild of Philip La Follette and Robert M. La Follette, Jr., the sons of the famous Wisconsin Governor and Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. The party was established in 1934 as an alliance between the longstanding "Progressive" faction of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, led by the La Follette family and their political allies, and certain radical farm and labor groups active in Wisconsin at the time.[2] The party served as a vehicle for Philip to run for re-election as Governor of Wisconsin and for Robert to run for re-election to the United States Senate. Both men were successful in their bids, and the party saw a number of other victories as well in the 1934 and 1936 elections, notably winning several U.S. House seats and a majority of the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly in 1936. Their grip on power was short-lived, however, and they succumbed to a united Democratic and Republican front in 1938 which swept most of them out of office, including Philip. They were further crippled that year by attempting to expand the party to the national level.

Orland Steen Loomis was the last Progressive to be elected Governor of Wisconsin, in the 1942 election. He died, however, before his inauguration as governor. Robert La Follette Jr. held on to his Senate seat until 1946, when the La Follettes decided to disband the party. Robert ran for re-election that year as a Republican rather than a Progressive, but was defeated in the Republican primary by Joe McCarthy.

During its heyday the Progressive Party usually did not run candidates in Milwaukee as there was a tacit agreement with the city's Socialists that progressive third parties should not fight each other, despite strong ideological differences between the two movements (Socialist State Representative George L. Tews during a 1932 debate on unemployment compensation and how to fund it argued for the Socialist bill and against the Progressive substitute, stating that a Progressive was "a Socialist with the brains knocked out"[3]), when both faced opposition from the conservative major parties. During the period from 1939 on, the Progressives and the Socialists of Milwaukee sometimes made common cause in a Farmer-Labor-Progressive Federation, with Socialist legislators caucusing with the minority Progressives. In 1942, Socialist Frank P. Zeidler, later to be elected Mayor of Milwaukee, was the nominee on the Progressive party line for State Treasurer of Wisconsin.

The last politician to hold office from the Wisconsin Progressive Party nationally was Merlin Hull, a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin, elected as a Progressive in 1944. (Hull continued to be re-elected on the Republican ticket, and served until his death in 1953.)

Officeholders from the Wisconsin Progressive Party

Federal office

State office

Electoral History

Wisconsin State Offices

Governor Lieutenant Governor Attorney General
Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes
1934 Philip La Follette 373,093
39.12 / 100
Elected 1934 Henry Gunderson 313,682
35.25 / 100
2nd of 7 1934 Fred M. Wylie 303,387
35.06 / 100
2nd of 7
1936 Philip La Follette 573,724
46.38 / 100
Re-elected 1936 Henry Gunderson 465,918
41.69 / 100
Elected 1936 Orland Steen Loomis 394,252
36.10 / 100
Elected
1938 Philip La Follette 353,381
36.00 / 100
2nd of 5 1938 George A. Nelson 313,066
34.36 / 100
2nd of 5 1938 Orland Steen Loomis 316,657
35.24 / 100
2nd of 4
1940 Orland Steen Loomis 546,436
39.78 / 100
2nd of 5 1940 Anton M. Miller 411,055
32.53 / 100
2nd of 4 1940 Otto F. Christenson 367,009
29.76 / 100
2nd of 4
1942 Orland Steen Loomis 397,664
49.65 / 100
Elected 1942 Henry J. Berquist 256,851
34.82 / 100
2nd of 5 1942 William H. Dieterich 205,730
21.41 / 100
2nd of 5
1944 Alexander Otto Benz 76,028
5.76 / 100
3rd of 5 1944 Clough Gates 79,068
6.38 / 100
3rd of 4 1944 William H. Dieterich 84,989
7.00 / 100
3rd of 4
Secretary of State Treasurer
Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes
1934 Theodore Dammann 419,249
46.66 / 100
Re-elected 1934 Albert C. Johnson 302,639
34.41 / 100
2nd of 6
1936 Theodore Dammann 601,638
52.12 / 100
Re-elected 1936 Solomon Levitan 457,942
40.03 / 100
Elected
1938 Theodore Dammann 391,150
41.61 / 100
2nd of 5 1938 Solomon Levitan 368,707
40.28 / 100
2nd of 5
1940 Adolph W. Larsen 332,505
26.03 / 100
2nd of 4 1940 Frank Zeidler 382,237
30.65 / 100
2nd of 4
1942 John H. Kaiser 196,287
26.19 / 100
2nd of 5 1942 Albert C. Johnson 215,995
29.63 / 100
2nd of 5
1944 Adelaide Woelfel 12,681
1.04 / 100
4th of 4 1944 Albert C. Johnson 73,451
5.98 / 100
3rd of 4
Wisconsin Senate Wisconsin Assembly
Election Leader Votes Seats Position Control Election Leader Votes Seats Position Control
No. Share No. ± No. Share No. ±
1934 N/A 137,544 32.10%
11 / 33
Increase 11 2nd DemocraticRepublican 1934 Jorge W. Carow 304,804 34.09%
45 / 100
Increase 45 1st Progressive minority
1936 Walter J. Rush 242,631 42.00%
16 / 33
Increase 5 1st Progressive minority 1936 Jorge W. Carow 437,916 38.73%
46 / 100
Increase 1 1st Progressive minority
1938 154,891 35.00%
11 / 33
Decrease 5 2nd Republican minority 1938 Paul Alfonsi
32 / 100
Decrease 12 2nd Republican
1940 212,631 32.09%
6 / 33
Decrease 5 2nd Republican 1940 N/A
25 / 100
Decrease 7 2nd Republican
1942 85,806 25.18%
6 / 33
Steady 2nd Republican 1942 N/A
13 / 100
Decrease 12 3rd Republican
1944 47,895 8.81%
5 / 33
Decrease 1 3rd Republican 1944 N/A
6 / 100
Decrease 7 3rd Republican

Wisconsin Federal Offices

U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives
Year Nominee # votes % votes Place Notes Election Leader Votes Seats Position Control
1934 Robert M. La Follette Jr. 440,513
47.78 / 100
Re-elected 1934 George J. Schneider 334,345 37.76%
7 / 10
Increase 7 1st Progressive
1936 No Seat Up 1936 George J. Schneider 479,263 42.69%
7 / 10
Steady 1st Progressive
1938 Herman Ekern 249,209
26.58 / 100
2nd of 6 1938 George J. Schneider 330,823 36.26%
2 / 10
Decrease 5 2nd Republican
1940 Robert M. La Follette Jr. 605,609
45.26 / 100
Re-elected 1940 N/A 469,063 36.96%
3 / 10
Increase 1 2nd Republican
1942 No Seat Up 1942 N/A 185,114 24.72%
2 / 10
Decrease 1 3rd Republican
1944 Harry Sauthoff 73,089
5.82 / 100
3rd of 5 1944 N/A 104,377 9.01%
1 / 10
Decrease 1 3rd Republican

See also

Notes

  1. ^ On This Day in Wisconsin History; On This Day: May 19 Wisconsin Historical Society
  2. ^ Wisconsin Progressive Party The Historical Marker Database
  3. ^ Kaveny, Edward T. "$10,000,000 Tax: Assembly Passes Compromise Bill by 73 to 15 Vote" Milwaukee Sentinel January 6, 1932; p. 1, cols. 7-8

Sources

  • Beck, Elmer A. The Sewer Socialists: A History of the Socialist Party of Wisconsin, 1897–1940. Fennimore, WI: Westburg Associates, 1982.
  • Glad, Paul W. The History of Wisconsin, Volume V: War, A New Era, and Depression, 1914–1940. Edited by William F. Thompson. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1990.
  • "Progressive Party, Wisconsin." Encyclopedia of American History. Answers Corporation, 2006. Answers.com 26 February 2009. http://www.answers.com/topic/progressive-party-wisconsin
This page was last edited on 11 April 2022, at 13:13
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